Tuesday, May 31, 2011

COME, COME YE SHEEP - LDS Hymn Parody #4

Well, these ExMormon hymn parodies just keep popping into my mind.  Someone recently left a comment on this blog saying that I should use my "talent" for revising the hymns in a more positive way, but clearly, I can't do that.  At least, not now.  Too many parodies still bouncing around in my brain for anything "positive" to take hold...  LOL

So here is my latest one - Come, Come Ye Saints ExMormon-ized.  Can't you just see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing this version?  Now, that would be priceless...

COME, COME YE SHEEP
Sung to the tune of Come, Come Ye Saints, #30

Come, come ye Sheep, just follow what we say,
Do not think for yourself.
It makes no sense, but throw your doubts away,
Put it all on your shelf.
Tis better far for us to voice
What you shall do, you have no choice.
So just shut down your brain and say,
Just obey, just obey.

Why should you be allowed to speak your mind?
We know best, just believe.
Though it is lies, you probably will find
It’s all meant to deceive.
Accept by faith what makes no sense,
And always come to our defense.
So follow close whate’er we say,
Just obey, just obey.

Don’t listen to the Antis who will say
It’s not true, don’t believe.
They may have found some stuff that we downplay,
But they work to deceive.
Apostates all, that’s what they are,
Detecting lies won't get them far.
And they’re all doomed, they’ve lost their way,
Won’t obey, won’t obey.

The Mormon Church, a cult right down the line,
But they say that’s not true.
It is God’s church, and so it is divine,
Gospel truth, through and through.
So if you pray, the light will come,
And then it won’t seem quite so dumb.
You must believe, don’t go astray,
Just obey, just obey.

© Diane Tingen, 5/31/2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

OH, HOW STUPID IS THE STORY - LDS Hymn Parody #3

Well, I've realized something... or rather, something has been confirmed.  And that is that I have a one-track mind, and am more than just a little OCD.  Once I start a project, I can't seem to put it down until it's finished.  Of course, I already knew this.  That has been the story of my life.  It's like when I began to discover that Mormonism is actually a fraud created by a con artist named Joseph Smith.  Bit by bit, I uncovered the pieces to the puzzle, and I couldn't stop until the entire puzzle was put together and framed. 

So it's really no surprise to me that after finishing one of these hymn parodies, my mind starts churning out another one.  Here is my latest addition to the ExMormon Hymn Book.

OH, HOW STUPID IS THE STORY
(formerly Oh, How Lovely was the Morning)
Oh, how stupid is the story
That they want me to believe.
And although I used to buy it,
I am no longer that naïve.
When I read about the history,
I could see how they deceive.
When I read about the history,
I could see how they deceive.

Being born and raised a Mormon,
I believed what I was told.
And I had a testimony,
Like about the plates of gold.
But confusion made me struggle
Till I saw it all unfold.
But confusion made me struggle
Till I saw it all unfold.

And the moment that it hit me,
I began to see the light,
And I knew with all my being
That the whole thing just wasn’t right.
I’d been duped, and I was livid,
I could feel my rage ignite.
I’d been duped, and I was livid,
I could feel my rage ignite.
Since escaping Mormonism,
And the messages they sent,
It’s so great without the feeling
That I’ve sinned and must repent.
Without always feeling guilty,
And the endless pure torment.
Without always feeling guilty,
And the endless pure torment.
Looking back, I still am livid,
7 years have come and gone.
But my interest in the quandary
Seems to linger on and on.
And perhaps the fascination
Will one day become a yawn,
And perhaps the fascination
Will one day become a yawn.
© Diane Tingen, 5/27/2011
Since the above hymn parody is based on Joseph Smith's First Prayer, Hymn #26 (fka "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning"), I thought it was appropriate to include a couple of pictures of this "great event."  Of course, since there are at least 9 versions of the First Vision, the likelihood of it actually having happened are, in my opinion, slim to none.


This is a rendering of Joseph Smith walking in the Sacred Grove, presumably prior to receiving the First Vision.




And here is a picture depicting the actual First Vision... or rather, the 9th version of the First Vision, which is the "official" one used by the Mormon Church today.
What a bunch of malarkey.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

WHO IS THE MAN? - LDS Hymn Parody #2

Over the time that I've been writing poetry (and the occasional set of lyrics), I've discovered that when I start thinking about a particular topic in poetic terms, my brain just starts churning, causing my creative juices to flow, and that process doesn't stop until the verse begins coming to me in waves.  And once it starts, it just keeps on coming.  Sometimes I think that's a curse because these thoughts tend to take over my brain, making it very difficult to do anything else.  Of course, having that happen to me makes me understand how many writers, musicians and other creative people tend to make their creativity the main focus of their lives, to the exclusion of a 9-to-5 job.  I would love to do that, too... but I like eating too much (that, and a roof over my head).

So here is my latest addition to the ExMormon Hymn Book.  I'm sure it will just be a matter of time before more twisted lyrics start popping into my brain...

WHO IS THE MAN?
Sung to the tune of Praise to the Man, #27
Who is the man who made up Mormonism?
His name was Joseph, and conning was his game.
He was a shyster beyond all description,
Fraudulent scams are his legacy and shame.
Chorus:
We can blame Joseph for all the deception,
He is the one who made up all the lies.
Finally I saw through the maze he created,
So glad I finally have opened up my eyes.
Who is the man who bedded Fanny Alger,
Starting the con that polygamy would be?
Yes, that was Joseph, he said God’s commandment
Was that his wives should number 33.
Chorus:
We can blame Joseph for all the deception,
He is the one who made up this big yarn.
Cover his ass was his main motivation
When Emma caught him with Fanny in the barn.
Who is the man who practiced Polyandry,
Married 11 of other men’s wives?
Joseph again, coercing all these women,
Plotting and planning as he messed with their lives.
Chorus:
Mormons now praise him, and call him a martyr,
Saying persecution is why he was killed.
But they won’t face that the truth is much different,
Simply a criminal, not as he is billed.
Who is the man who destroyed a printing press
When stories published exposed polygamy?
Yes, this was Joseph, he ordered the burning,
Nauvoo Expositor, demolished violently.
Chorus:
That is the reason that he was arrested,
That is the reason he was in Carthage Jail.
Armed with a shotgun when the mob attacked him.
So was he a martyr? No, that premise must fail.
Sadly, so much of the lies and deception
Will never dawn on most TBMs out there.
Instead, they buy what they’re told to believe in,
And anything “Anti” they’re told to beware.
Chorus:
Whatever happened to critical thinking?
Judge for yourself, and you’d see it’s all inane.
Evidence shows it’s just lies and deception,
It would be clear if you’d simply use your brain.
©Diane Tingen, 5/26/2011
Yes, sadly I bought into all this for a long time... in fact, 52 years of my life.  Having been OUT for 7 years now, I feel lucky to have escaped the closed mindset that goes along with being Mormon.  After doing my own independent research, I discovered that it's actually a fraud perpetuated by Joseph Smith, and carried on by many others since his death.  Here's a few images to wrap up this new addition to the ExMormon Hymn Book. 


Joseph Smith, Founder,Prophet and Seer of the Mormon Church.






Joseph Smith "reading" the gold plates, which he later "translated" into the Book of Mormon.









Joseph Smith, placing his head in a hat to "translate" the Book of Mormon.

Some crazy shit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I STAND ALL AMAZED - LDS Hymn Parody #1

OK, I've been thinking about this and have decided that the ExMormon community needs a Hymn Book.  So I've started working on re-writing some hymns that I grew up singing in Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School (and, of course, later on in Seminary and Relief Society).

I mean, really... I need to put some good use to all these LDS hymns still rolling around in my brain, which is something I just can't seem to stop.  Of course, part of the reason for that is I was Ward Organist for many years (and also played the piano in Relief Society and Primary).  Plus I sang in many Ward Choirs and Stake Choirs over the years (and also sang solos as well as in duets, trios and quartets).  In fact, for a few years, I was in the Southern California Mormon Choir (which is SoCal's answer to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).  Music is the one thing I miss about going to church... but not enough to go back to the Mormon Church... or any other church at this point since it seems that I'm irrevocably burned out on organized religion in general...

So anyway, I think the ExMormon Hymn Book should include ones like:

The Spirit of God, #2 (my mind is already swirling with the possibilities, some of which will probably turn out to be slightly "blasphemous").

Praise to the Man, #27 (oh yes, I feel an ExMormon version of this one coming on.  I mean, praising Joseph Smith?  This "revision" should come very easily).

Come, Come Ye Saints, #30 (yes, the possibilities are endless, and I'm sure you know where I may go with this one).

Joseph Smith's First Prayer, #26 (which was previously entitled Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning when I was growing up.  And really, how could I pass this one up? - especially since it is now very obvious to me that the whole "First Vision" thing is a complete fabrication.  I mean, really?  9 versions?  Get real.)

Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd, #221 (I have to "revise" this one, mainly because it was one that always cracked me up when I was a teenager - my best friend and I sat together in Sacrament Meeting a couple of times when this hymn was sung, and we couldn't make it through much of it without breaking out in laughter.  Very strange indeed.).

If You Could Hie to Kolob, #284 (which I always thought was rather strange anyway, so creating "revisions" to it shouldn't be much of a stretch).  As it turns out, the recorded music for this one is not available on LDS.org because of "copyright restrictions."

And so many others... 

Anyway, the first one I've "revised" is I Stand All Amazed, #193.  This hymn has a particular signficance to me, aside from the "religious" implications, because it had already been revised years ago by a girl who came to live with my family when she was 18, had just joined the Mormon Church, and had been thrown out by her very Catholic family (my mother was Relief Society President at the time, and took in some "stray" people from time to time).  Anyway, this girl "fell in love" with a boy who lived in our Ward, and began singing this hymn at home with the words, "I Stand All Amazed by the love Michael offers me."  I'm sure she made up other revisions to the words at the time, but I don't remember anymore right now.  I was 12 at the time so remembering all details is rather difficult at this point.

So, without further adieu, here is my "ExMormon" version of this beloved hymn: 
I STAND ALL AMAZED
LDS Hymn Book #193
I stand all amazed at the crap Mormons pushed on me,
Confused at the lies that they buy into mindlessly.
I shutter to think that I once was a TBM,
That I once believed it, but now I’m not one of them.

Chorus:
Oh, it is wonderful
That I could see the light,
Enough to know what’s right.
Oh, it is wonderful,
Wonderful to me.

I marvel that finally I saw it’s a pile of crap,
So grateful to know I was able to spring the trap.
That I should extend my distaste for its doctrine now,
Sufficient to voice all its ills, this I do avow.

Chorus:
Oh, it is wonderful
That I could recognize
The fact that it’s all lies.
Oh, it is wonderful,
Wonderful to me.

I think of the years when I struggled to go to church,
Such torture, such hate and repulsion I do besmirch.
No, no, I will party and do what the hell I please,
Until I am falling down drunk at a few orgies.

Chorus:
Oh, it is wonderful,
That I am finally free
To live life blissfully.
Oh, it is wonderful,
Wonderful to me.
___________________________________________________

Well, I obviously have my work cut out for me in compiling an ExMormon Hymn Book.  But it must be done because a lot of these hymns are really crying out for revision.  And of course, I would love suggestions...

So I'll keep you posted on what comes to me... because I know it will happen (since that's just the way my mind works).

Monday, May 23, 2011

THE VALUE OF CLICHES AND THE WANDERING MINDSET

This morning, I came across a very interesting post on the Slightly Moderated Stream of Consciousness blog entitled The Aimless Aim.  One of the topics this blog post discussed was the author's opinion that the value of clichés diminishes over time with their use.  The blogger started off this post by quoting JRR Tolkien's statement that "Not all those who wander are lost," and the first sentence of his post states, "Each time a cliché is repeated, it looses (sic) its rhetorical power."  Presumably, the blogger is tying these two thoughts together, perhaps insinuating that the Tolkien quote might be considered a cliché.

As I said in my comment to this post, while I agree with the Tolkien quote as shown above, I don't agree with the blogger's statement about the diminishing value of clichés.   The value of clichés may change to a certain degree over time, but I don't think their value ever diminishes to a point where their inherent value is ever substantially lost.  For instance, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" is a very valuable cliché in that it emphasizes the need to look at situations in an overall sense and not get tied up in details that might skew a person's outlook entirely.  This cliché is similar to not being able to "see the forest for the trees."  And of course, as someone who tends to want perfection out of all aspects of life, I've struggled over the years with the tendency to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" (in a rhetoric sense, of course) as well as getting so tied up in minutia that at times I have trouble "seeing the forest for the trees." 

Of course, there are many other clichés (and/or colloquialisms) that are very valuable in handling situations that life throws at us all.  In my journey away from Mormonism, I found myself struggling to a great extent with the "perfection" aspect of it all (i.e. "baby/bathwater" dilemma).  Some people are able to accept and/or look beyond all the lies, deceptions and cover-ups that the Mormon Church perpetuates.  Having read and heard many explanations for these obvious problem areas, I consider these explanations to be nothing more than rationalizations or delusions.  In my opinion, if you can't depend on a religion to be upfront and truthful about its history and doctrine, then what good is it?  In my opinion, a religion that professes to value truth and honesty should be truthful and honest in presenting its history and doctrine.  It shouldn't play fast and loose with the truth on one hand while professing to value truth, honesty and integrity on the other hand.  As far as I am concerned, this represents a huge credibility problem for the Mormon Church because since they have lied about so much, including its sordid history and questionable doctrine, then how can anything they say be trusted? 

So in leaving the Mormon Church after discovering all the lies, deceptions, cover-ups and contradictions, some may say that I got caught up in expecting too much perfection, that I threw the baby out with the bathwater, or that I tossed it aside because I couldn't see the forest for the trees.  In fact, when I have commented on some blog posts about these types of topics, saying that for me it is "all or nothing," I have been criticized by people saying that all religion is filled with lies and contradictions so why should Mormonism be any different.  That logic is lost on me, and I don't think it makes the lies acceptable.  "Actions speak louder than words," especially when "airing dirty laundry."  

The problems with Mormonism are "all over the map," and I got tired of always trying to "look on the bright side," especially since with each problem I discovered, it seemed like just "one more nail in the coffin."  It all became so "hard to swallow, and I found myself  "at my wit's end."  To me, it became as "plain as the nose on your face" that Mormonism was made-up from the get-go.  But then the philosophy of the Mormon Church seems to be, "Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies."  They also seem to adhere to the philosophy that "the ends justifies the means," but I don't think that is the case at all.  And they "gloss over" so much.  I may have been very naive and sheltered in my younger years because of my Mormon upbringing, but I'm definitely no "babe in the woods" now.  And I'm not "dumber than a box of rocks" either.  But although there are aspects of Mormonism that made me feel like I was "banging my head against a brick wall," at least I didn't "blow my brains out" before finally deciding to "cash in my chips" and "call it a day." 

As I'm sure has become very obvious, I could go on and on with the clichés, but I'll spare you any more for now since I'm sure you've more than gotten the point.


As far as the "wandering" part of the subject post is concerned, I was definitely born under a wandering star, so I can relate completely to what was said about that mindset.  Staying in one place for very long makes me feel stagnant, and experiencing the adventures that "wandering" brings makes me feel vital and alive.  As I stated above, I agree with the Tolkien quote that "not all who wander are lost," and with what the blogger says in his post that "the joy is in the journey, not the destination."  That statement may be a bit cliché, but in my opinion, it is a very valuable one.

Of course, in looking back at my life, anyone who examines it closely would see that I have "wandered" a bit.  I was born and raised in Central California (Fresno), went to college in Utah (BYU, Provo), and moved to Los Angeles in 1975.  While living in Southern California for the next 30 years, I lived in several places - first in Pasadena, then in the San Fernando Valley, then in Monrovia, and then in Orange County (Brea, Fullerton and Costa Mesa).  Obviously, in examining these moves, it becomes rather obvious that I was "wandering" a bit, perhaps searching for something.  But in the process of that searching, I had a lot of very valuable experiences that have added immeasureably to my life.

Then in January 2006, I decided to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live near my brother (since he is my only sibling and our parents are both gone now).  While living in the Atlanta Metro area, I started off living in Peachtree City, and then lived in Kennesaw, Hampton, Druid Hills, Alpharetta and Sandy Springs.  Of course, the major purpose for my many Atlanta moves was because I really didn't like living in Georgia, so I was trying to find an area in Atlanta where I would like living.  But that never really worked because as it turned out, Georgia (and/or the South) and I just don't get along because there's way too much heat and humidity in the summer (which also affects the winters, making it bone-chilling cold); way too many bugs and spiders (of enormous size and proportions); way too much traffic with way too many people who tailgate at high speeds way too much; and way too many drivers who have little regard for pedestrians.  Seriously, people are taking their lives in their hands when they decide to walk around in Atlanta... oh, the stories I can tell...

When my daughter Monica (who had moved to Georgia with me) started talking about moving to Colorado to finish massage therapy school, I opted to join her on her trek back out West.  We have lived in Colorado for a little over a year now, and during that entire year, we have lived in Westminster, about 10 miles north of Denver (since that is where she has been going to school).  Monica has now finished massage therapy school and is graduating this coming Thursday, May 26, 2011 - and I am extremely proud of her for achieving that goal.  And next month, we are moving to Centennial, Colorado, which is about 10 miles south of Denver in an area that seems very conducive to Monica pursuing her goal of being a Massage Therapist. 

But while we are excited to be moving to this area, I became a little disconcerted when I discovered that there is a Mormon chapel just 2 blocks from our new condo (unbelievable!!) - and that the temple in Denver is in Centennial only 1-1/2 miles directly south of where we are going to live.  Oh, well... can't have everything, right?  I just hope they leave us alone... 


But regardless of what happens, I remind myself that "the joy is in the journey, not in the destination."  It doesn't matter what road blocks we might come across because that is part of the journey.  Learning to use those road blocks and detours as life lessons helps to enhance what a person gains from the journey itself.  Life truly is a journey of enormous proportions, and learning from what is thrown in our path is as important to the journey as are the somewhat easier steps we take.  And of course, trying not to backpedal and repeat mistakes is a very important lesson as well. 

So as the blogger from the Slightly Moderated Stream of Consciousness blog said in the closing paragraph of his The Aimless Aim post, "I like wandering.  I like meandering.  I'm in no hurry to meet my final destination.  I enjoy not being at the end, because that's the part where you (and by you I mean I) die."  And I'll end my post there, too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

TOMORROW'S RAPTURE - MAY 21, 2011

Well, here it is... May 20, 2011.  The day before the RAPTURE as predicted by Harold Camping.  There has been a lot of media coverage of this prediction here in Colorado, probably because, as it turns out, Harold Camping lives in Boulder, Colorado.  Actually, that kind of surprised me since I would have expected him to be based out of Colorado Springs more (which is home to Focus on the Family and has a very strong Christian influence).  Of course, there has been discussions about the fact that he himself has predicted the RAPTURE before (in September 1994), and of course, it didn't happen then.  At that time, he said that the world was going to end between September 15-17, and would not pin down the exact date, citing Matthew 24:36 that says no man knows the day nor the hour when Christ will return to the earth.  Apparently since predicting the end of the world in 1994, though, Mr. Camping has altered his position on that scripture since now he gives a very specific day - May 21, 2011 - for the RAPTURE.  This article on the Christian Research Institute website goes into quite a bit of detail about this topic.

On Facebook, someone posted this link about various failed predictions for the end of the world.  So if the rapture doesn't happen tomorrow, we have many more predicted dates to look forward to, like 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2025, and on and on and on.  Great information to have, huh??!!

The sad thing about these types of predictions is that these "prophets" typically gain followers, and in convincing them that the end of is near, they end up becoming rich from the contributions they receive.  And of course, many of the followers end up selling their possession in anticipation of being lifted up in the RAPTURE.  And then, when the RAPTURE doesn't occur, they are left destitute and disillusioned.  This morning, I read a great post on the Belief Blog on CNN.com that goes into this aspect of things.  The author (David Silverman, a proclaim atheist from age 6) gives a very good description of just how religious predictions such as this one harm people.

And of course, there have been many other blog posts on this topic as well.  I read one on (Will's) Moroni Blows blog this morning, which is entitled "To Rapture or Not to Rapture."  In this post, Will talks about a radio personality in Salt Lake City (a Mormon, of course), and states:


"Today he commented on the up-coming rapture event set to happen this Saturday.  He made the statement that its things like this that gives Christians a bad name, and went on to state that Mos do not believe in such an event.  Here is where I have a problem.  The corp teaches emphatically that the righteous (those who pay their tithing and pay homage to the men in SLC) will be lifted up and not burned at Christ's coming.  Is this not the rapture?  It may be a rapture for different reasons, i.e., the payment of friendship dues and underwear sniffing, which is yet another concept that separates the corp from Christianity, but in effect it is a/the rapture just the same."
Interesting point made by Will.  Then his blog goes on to say:
"In the same breath he made the point that if someone proclaims to know the moment in time when this supposed event should take place, it would be an indication that they are not on the right track and don't know from whence they speak.  I have a problem with this as well, seeing how the Mos testify their leader to be a prophet of god, actually the only mouth piece for god."
Another interesting point.  When I was an active Mormon (very TBM), it bothered me when I heard things like this, as if to say that everyone else is wrong, and only the Mormon point of view is right.  Of course, it also bothered me (way back then) that the Mormon Church professes to be the Only True Church on the Face of the Earth.  When I started researching more independently, away from the "authorized areas," I did a lot of reading about cults, and realized that "exclusivity" (i.e. saying that a particular religion is the only true one) is one of the signs of a cult.  Of course, in looking at the various characteristics of cults, I came to believe that the Mormon Church is very much a cult because it fits every single category for cultism.


Of course, I believe that tomorrow will come and go, and there will be no RAPTURE.  But unfortunately, as shown in the link discussed above about failed predictions of the end of the world, the likehood is that we will be hearing more and more about this topic as the years go by.
AND I JUST CAN'T WAIT...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

MORMONISM SEUSS-IFIED

A few days ago, I got an email from someone who had found my blog and was writing to thank me for what I have written here, saying that it has helped him to work his way through the mires of Mormonism and gain the strength necessary to remain steadfast in his decision to leave the cult.  Getting that email from this man meant so much to me.  So often, I feel that my writings are more for me than anyone else, but knowing that there are others out there gaining insight from what I have written is very reassuring and fulfilling.

In the email he sent me, this man mentioned that he really liked my poetry, and especially "Mormonism Seuss-ified."  And although it is posted on the poetry page of this blog, I wanted to share it again because it says so much of how I feel about Mormonism and my trek away from its "force and pull."  Besides, I couldn't pass up the chance to post these great Dr. Seuss images I found...

MORMONISM SEUSS-IFIED

I do not like the Mormon Church,
And it’s not true, I’ve done research,
The Book of Mormon, it’s no surprise,
Filled with deception, full of lies.
The Word of Wisdom, what a crock,
Invented by a true shylock
Named Joseph Smith, the prophet dear
To Mormons, who his name revere.


For 50 years, I lived the life,
And I was an “eternal wife.”
Yes, temple marriage was my goal,
Trying to comprehend my role,
A woman in a church of men,
Questioning, again and again,
Praying that answers would be clear,
Wanting my doubts to disappear.


For I was simply not convinced
And what I felt could not be rinsed
Or cleansed in any way at all,
The total lies were its downfall
Within my mind and in my heart,
And knowing that, I had to start
Withdrawing from its force and pull,
No matter how hard or painful.


But Mormonism is a scam,
A fraud, a hoax, complete flim-flam,
A scheme to make its leaders rich,
Just thinking of it makes me twitch.
Sometimes I’d want to scream out loud,
“I hate that stupid cult,” and vowed
That I won’t go there, not again,
No matter what, or who, they send.


I’ve left the cult, won’t go no more,
To that whole thing, I’ve closed the door,
And though I know I won’t go back,
My family thinks that I will crack,
Admit my faults, repentance seek,
Since as they say, I’m very weak
Without the Holy Ghost to guide,
And that is why I think they lied.


Yes, I’m mislead, so full of shit
That I can’t see the truth of it,
According to the ones who know,
The TBMs can’t let it go.
They have to say that I’m condemned,
A heathen now, and can’t defend
What I have done, have left the fold
And now, I’m way out in the cold.


What they can’t see and can’t accept
I’m happy now, a strange concept.
Not possible, they say to me,
As I delude myself fully.
For only if you stay on track
The Mormon Way, can you go back
To live in heaven with the Lord,
Salvation and your just reward.


But please, if Mormonism’s true,
Then go yourself, I beg of you.
Don’t take me there, I will not go,
I’d rather spend my time below
With others who have left the church,
As Mormonism they besmirch,
For they will be a lot more fun,
And to me, that’s more like heaven.


© Diane Tingen, July 2010

Life is an interesting journey wherein we (hopefully) evolve to our true selves.  This quote by Dr. Seuss is very appropos to where I have arrived at this point in my journey.  Just being myself.  Something I never felt I could do when I was embroiled in Mormonism.  My journey took me through the bowels of Mormonism, but luckily, it also took me on a journey of self-discovery.  During that journey, I was forcefully hit on the head by the actual truth, making me realize that I had wasted far too many years on a religious organization that plays very fast and loose with the truth.
 
When I was a Mormon, I was essentially told to turn off my brain and just accept whatever was told to me.  But I don't believe that's what God wants us to do (if, in fact, there is a God, spoken from my now agnostic point of view).  IMO, we were equipped with brains so that we could think, examine and analyze - and decide what to believe and what not to believe.  To discern for ourselves. 



Just accepting things on face value without digging deeper is simply not wise.  The question of why I did that for so many years is something I am still asking myself.  But regardless of the answer to that question, I know for certain that I am being true to who I really am now - and that is priceless.

And although Dr. Seuss' writings seem as if they are all for children, so much of it is applicable in many ways to people in all stages of their lives.  Just like the quote by Dr. Seuss in this picture says, we all need to "Think left and think right and think low and think high," because "...the Thinks you can think up if you only try" are also priceless.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

THE SKEWED LOGIC OF MORMON APOLOGISTS

Mental Gymnastics.  The way we twist ideas and experiences to conform to our preconceived views of the world.  In my opinion, that's what Mormon Apologists engage in to arrive at the conclusions they derive.  Skewed logic.  These types of mind games are precisely why I cringe every time I read any types of comments from the LDS FAIR website (Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research) as well as the BYU FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) which is now under the auspices of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.

While looking at some blogs that I follow today, I came across a blog post on "Not Very Useful Truths" about Apologists, and in particular an Apologist named Michael Ash.  According to this blog post, Michael Ash had written a comment on the blog of a man named Stephen Bloor (a podiatrist) who resigned as a Bishop in a Mormon Ward in the UK earlier this year due to historical and doctrinal issues.  The blog contained the resignation letter that Dr. Bloor had written to his Stake President, resigning from the church.

In reading Michael Ash's comments, I was struck by the way in which he tries to diminish Steve Bloor's findings and opinions.  This is a common tactic for Apologists, apparently feeling that if they can discredit the questioning person's opinions, and make them feel small and stupid for their feelings, then the Apologist can somehow appear bigger, more important, more intelligent, and definitely more righteous.  This, of course, is a common tactic within Mormonism itself.  If a person doesn't understand something or doesn't believe it, then it is their own fault and not the fault of the Mormon Church itself.  They are missing something because they aren't righteous enough.  Very demeaning.

The letter to which Michael Ash was responding had apparently been posted by Steve Bloor on a blog, but unfortunately that post on Steve Bloor's blog is now "protected," and as such is not available to the general public on his blog.  However, his letter is still available in a thread on www.reddit.com at this link.  What he wrote in that letter is very poignant, and I can relate deeply and entirely to everything he says in it, mainly because all of what he wrote could have been written by me.

Here is the response by Michael Ash(Please note that I have added some of my own comments in bolded italics below).
I’m not one to publish frequently on blogs or message boards.  Quite frankly, life is too short, I have too many irons in the fire, and I have precious little time to work on projects that I feel are more worthwhile than arguing with others.  Having said this, however, I feel the need to comment on a few things discussed herein.  More worthwhile than arguing with others?  Why term it like that?  How about exchanging ideas with the purpose of arriving at a logical conclusion?  But then when a person believes he's always right regardless of any evidence to the contrary, there is usually no real exchange of ideas but rather an onslaught of overbearing rhetoric.

Steve, I honestly hope that you find happiness in your own personal spiritual quest.  In the end, each of us has to decide for ourselves what brings us true happiness.   Oh, so true.

I can imagine (with a touch of anecdotal recollection of my own) the emotional turmoil you must have gone through.  The phrase “cognitive dissonance” [CD] is thrown about loosely in discussions about LDS issues, but true CD is very hard on the emotions and mind, and can make you physically ill.  You cannot endure CD for long and your mind/body seeks a quick resolution.  Some people find resolution by brushing difficult issues aside, others by embracing the new difficulties and changing their paradigm.  Either way, the psychological tension is relieved.  This doesn’t automatically make one direction right and the other wrong, however.   Also true - people resolve cognitive dissonance in various ways.  For me, it was realizing that the Mormon Church is a pile of lies - and then leaving it behind.  At that point, I was way beyond the place where I could rationalize any of it out.

Common among those who leave the church are feelings of anger and betrayal, and those feelings can be so powerful that they can cloud any or all thoughts of accepting the claims made by the Church.  This comes from feelings of mistrust and are hard to overcome – and certainly influence a bias against arguments that support the Church.   Well, that says a lot.  And a bias against arguments that support the Church doesn't begin to describe it. 

Feelings of mistrust, as you note in your post, come most often from feeling that things have been “hidden.”  The simple truth, however, is that things are not nearly as “hidden” as some– who stumble upon such information [often painted in the worst possible light by critics]– would think.  There isn’t enough space in this blog to do this topic justice but I can refer you to information that demonstrates a) that most of the difficult issues have been discussed in Church-related publications for years, b) most people in general are blissfully unaware of significant historical/political etc., events.  In other words, it’s sad but true, that most people are simply ignorant of things they should know more about.  Yes, it is sad but true that most Mormons are ignorant of things they should know more about.  But why is that?  Could it be because the Mormon Church makes these things very difficult to find and highly discourages any sort of independent research?

When a believing member “discovers” such things, the Church is immediately held up as the culprit for “hiding” the information in a “cover-up” to control the minds of members.  This is simply not true.  Yes, Mr. Ash, it is true.  Lots of "cover-ups" going on.

Your post speaks of “solid, reliable, testable scientific data,” that supports your current religious views of Mormonism.  At the risk of sounding rude, I seriously doubt that you could produce such data.  Before you begin writing a list please keep in mind, that a large number of educated Latter-day Saints are fully aware of every single LDS-critical argument.  I, myself, have studied them for many decades.  There is absolutely no intellectual data that automatically compels an intelligent person to reject the Book of Mormon.  Of course there is no intellectual data that automatically compels an intelligent person to accept the Book of Mormon either.  In short, all the “scientific data” that is used to discredit the Church has an equally “solid, reliable,” and “testable” refutation (and, generally, vice-versa for pro-LDS claims).   Let's re-phrase portions of this letter.  "There is absolutely no intellectual data that TBMs and/or Mormon Apologists will admit automatically compels an intelligent person to reject the Book of Mormon."   "In short, all the “scientific data” that is used to discredit the Church has an equally “solid, reliable,” and “testable” refutation (and, generally, vice-versa for pro-LDS claims) - or so they would have you believe."  

The journey is yours, and yours alone.  No one can ride on the shirt tail of anyone else when it comes to matters of faith, so I have no dog in the race as to the outcome of your own decision on religious issues.  I merely wish to emphasize that you are not the only one to “discover” difficult issues.  Lots of intelligent people have examined them.  A number of these intelligent people are not only still believing members but recognize that there are rational and logical explanations that account for every criticism out there.  For me, this is probably the most offensive paragraph in Mr. Ash's comments.  To assert that "lots of intelligent people have examined" these issues and have been able to recognize that there are rational and logical explanations that account for every criticism out there" is basically telling Dr. Bloor that he is too stupid to arrive at the same conclusion as "lots of intelligent people."  How arrogant and self-righteous.

From what I have seen through years of reading exit stories is that the main factor which causes a person to leave is indeed “hurt feelings” and feeling “offended”– not offended by someone in the Church, but offended at the thought that they’ve been conned.  And the primary reason that such people feel they were conned is because they never really engaged “study and faith” in their gospel lives.  "Never really engaged 'study and faith' in their gospel lives."  Boy, Michael Ash just loves to generalize, doesn't he?  But then, that's the M.O. of most Mormon Apologists.  It was "study" that brought me to the conclusion that the Mormon Church is a pile of lies, and I refuse to believe anything on blind faith anymore. 

Like most people who fail to put their minds to full use as God intends, they often take a black-and-white approach to religious issues.  It’s either true or false. There either were horses in the New World, or the Book of Mormon is fictional. The Book of Abraham was either written by Abraham himself, or Joseph Smith created the text.  Such a fundamentalist attitude is anathema to a healthy paradigm of how God works through fallible humans.   Yes, Mr. Ash - it's either true or false.  Call it a "fundamentalist attitude" if you want, but truth is truth is truth is truth - and lies are lies are lies are lies. 

Good luck, and if you are ever open again to searching for answers, let me know.  Yeah, Michael... uh, if I were you, I wouldn't hold your breath.
Like I said...



In the post on Not Very Useful Truths, the blogger posts 5 items in addressing Michael Ash's comments.  Although similar to what I've inserted above, I found these items to be very insightful and thorough, and as such, I think his points bear repeating.

Dear Mr. Ash:

1.  Don't stereotype or lump or group-think your assumptions about anyones disaffection.  Your anecdotal "understanding" of why people leave is shallow and misguided.  I have read hundreds of exit stories as well, and listened to dozens more and NONE can mirror my own story.  No two disaffections are the same!  The reasons for leaving are complex, and emotional, and to have someone as grand as you try and cast this former bishop or anyone else into a neat little file shows your general lack of respect and insecurities regarding the matter.

2.  Don't throw something as superficial as "millions of others know these issues and believe" as some half-baked appeal to authority.  Millions of others know these issues and leave, too, Mike.  And if we are playing a numbers-count game, then we are all in the wrong religion.  

3.  Don't claim intellectual superiority as you talk down to those of us who simply could not live with the CD, (and thanks for clarifying cog-dis to begin with... wow... glad you helped me get beyond my misunderstanding of CD theory), and walked away. Oh, that we could all compartmentalize and truly understand at your levels. 

4.  The church has lied. Has lied about a number of things! Define "the church" however you want - a committee, a group of leaders, a prophet, a PR or legal department, a local ward leader... it doesn't matter much - the church has lied.  Period.  This, Mr. Ash, is a fact.  Well documented and indisputable in many cases - unless you really want to wade into the nuance of half-truths and what the meaning of "is" is.  To claim massive cover up and conspiracy may be harder/impossible to prove, but there are more than enough instances of lies and mistruths.  You claim the information is out there for those with intellectual integrity to find and study, but you also know that asking those tough questions, seeking details beyond the highly polished story line from the correlated manuals, and critical thinking is discouraged and even punished.  Tell both sides of the story, Mr. Ash. 

5.  If your arguments and comments in your reply to the bishop hold any water, why do apologetics exist in the first place?
Of course, from my own perspective, Michael Ash's response is filled with rationalizations as well as attempts to minimize Steve Bloor's findings, feelings and opinions.  In particular, the next to the last paragraph in his response is simply ridiculous.  "Like most people who fail to put their minds to full use as god intends, they often take a black-and-white approach to religious issues."  Clearly, I am one of those people who believes that the Mormon church is either true or false.  To me, there is no middle ground where rationalization can overcome the fallacies so obviously apparent to one who actually puts their mind to full use, using the brain with which they have been equipped.

Truly, the kind of mind games engaged in by most Mormon Apologists makes my brain melt...

And in closing, here's a few applicable quotes:

To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another.  ~John Burroughs

How many legs does a dig have if you call the tail a leg?  Four.
Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.  ~Abraham Lincoln

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled seas of thought.  ~John Kenneth Galbraith

All the mind's activity is easy if it is not subjected to reality.
~Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past: Cities of the Plain

Monday, May 2, 2011

TURN THE OTHER CHEEK???

Today is Monday, May 2 - the day following the news of the death of Osama bin Laden.  When I heard the news last night, I was relieved that this man will no longer be able to terrorize other human beings.  Yes, his organization (Al Qaeda) will still exist, but since Osama bin Laden was its founder and leader, hopefully his death will impact Al Qaeda negatively even if it doesn't dissolve completely (which would be the preferred outcome).  Of course, the impact that his death will have on the world and Al Qaeda remains to be seen.  Regardless, though, I agree with President Obama who said that "this is a good day for America."

After hearing the news and listening to the President's speech, I was astounded when I went on Facebook and saw the mixed reactions.  Some comments were positive and expressed relief and happiness as well as gratitude that Osama bin Laden had finally been brought to justice.  But other comments were somewhat negative, expressing feelings like "So what?" Some comments even said that he was "old news" and the only thing this did was to make him a martyr, basically inferring that it really didn't matter.  I disagree.  I think this is a very big deal, and is a positive development in the war against terrorism.  It may have taken almost 10 years after 9/11 to eliminate the evil forces that Osama bin Laden was hoisting on the world, but I see the fact that he is now dead and gone as very positive and encouraging.


This morning on my way to work, I was on a bus in downtown Denver, and a fellow passenger (male) was having a conversation with the bus driver.  During their exchange, the passenger said, "A man is dead, and we shouldn't be having a parade about it."  While I agree that death is not something to necessarily celebrate, I do feel that in this instance there is some jubilation inherent in the situation.  An evil man who masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 is now dead.  That is a good thing.  And even though I don't believe that the Book of Mormon is either true or actual scripture anymore, I do think the philosophy behind one of its scriptures does fit this occasion (namely, 1 Nephi 4:11-13) - and to paraphase it, "It is better for one man to perish than for an entire world to live in fear and terror."  In certain circumstances, I believe retaliation and vengance are in order.  And to me, this is one of them.

The man on the bus also asked, "What about turning the other cheek?," saying that the death of Osama bin Laden was not condoned by Jesus Christ or the New Testament.  The bus driver answered by saying that scripture does not apply in the situation.  He said that Christianity requires its followers to be humble, forgiving and to turn the other cheek when they are wronged.  But when the harm being perpetuated on that person is both harsh and repeated, they would be foolish not to retalitate and that Jesus Christ does not require them to be push-overs.  And I agree completely with what this man said.  Obviously killing Osama bin Laden will not bring back the people who have been killed because of his actions, but keeping him alive only makes his actions continue and the threat that he posed more looming and dangerous. 



In perusing articles on the internet, I came across one on http://www.beliefnet.com/, which I found to be very interesting.  That article is entitled, "The Limits of  'Turn the Other Cheek,' and in it, the author says the following:
The doctrine of nonviolence advocated by Martin Luther King is most commonly associated with the New Testament, specifically with Jesus' statement in the Sermon on the Mount: "Offer the wicked man no resistance.  On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well." (Matthew 5:38-39)

Although one might think that the example cited by Jesus (being slapped by a violent person) is uncommon, in fact it occurs quite often.  Many women, and a smaller number of men, are married to, or live with, a partner who slaps and beats them.  Does one counsel such people to accept abuse, to offer the other cheek, or rather tell them to immediately leave the relationship, and perhaps file a criminal complaint? I believe that the latter course - which rejects Jesus' advice both to "resist not evil" and to offer the other cheek - is not only more effective but also more moral.

It's worth noting that Jesus speaks of offering your other cheek to one who slaps you – a painful but not normally life-threatening circumstance.  It's not clear that he's also advocating that you allow yourself to be murdered rather than fight back.

Yet in the 20th century, people from Leo Tolstoy to Mahatma Gandhi interpreted Jesus' words to mean that one should be willing to die rather than fight back against a would-be killer.  I find this reading of the New Testament to be troublesome.  In any situation in which a would-be murderer confronts a potential victim, I believe that the world is a better place if the would-be murderer, rather than the intended victim, emerges dead from the encounter.  As Thomas Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia and a great humanist, said in response to Tolstoy: "If someone attacks me with the intention of killing me, I shall defend myself, and if I cannot avoid it, I shall kill the attacker.  If one of us must be killed, let the one be killed who has the bad intentions."

While I think it is important that violence not be perpetuated, and that every slight should not be met with instant retaliation, I also think that people need to use their heads and decide when violence and retaliation are necessary.  Showing violent people that they are not dealing with a doormat is an important signal to send.  It shows that while others may not be looking for a fight, they are not going to turn away from such an altercation if the situation warrants it.


Time will tell what impact the death of Osama bin Laden will actually have on the world.  It may have none.  Al Qaeda may go forward, business as usual.  But at least the messages have been sent that we will not sit by idly and "turn the other cheek" - and that we as Americans are not doormats.  Those are very important messages to be sent and received.

Like I said in a Facebook post last night, "Whether or not bin Laden's death has any 'strategic importance in the long run' is really immaterial.  It is an important step in the war against terrorism, and it is very important for America in general, and the people who lost family members on 9/11 in particular."